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Ford hiring 2,200 U.S. white-collar staff as vehicle lineup expands

A logo of a Ford car is pictured during a press presentation prior to the Essen Motor Show in Essen November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbende
A logo of a Ford car is pictured during a press presentation prior to the Essen Motor Show in Essen November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbende

By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co plans to fill 2,200 white-collar positions this year in product development and other units based in the United States as the automaker expands and updates its vehicle lineup worldwide.

About 75 percent of the jobs will be in engineering, manufacturing and information technology, Ford said in a statement on Friday, describing this as its largest increase in new salaried positions in more than a decade.

"As we expand our product lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles, we need more people in critical areas," said Joe Hinrichs, head of Ford's North and South American operations.

The No.2 U.S. automaker is relying in part on temporary workers and interns to fill those positions. Some of the jobs already exist, but are vacant at the moment.

Beyond that, Ford estimated that it will add about 900 new jobs to its current salaried workforce in North America. Ford cautioned that the figure is preliminary and could change.

Like many U.S. companies, Ford is tackling its growth goals with a smaller workforce than it had before the recession. In 2006, Ford employed 38,600 salaried workers in North America. At the end of last year, that figure was 28,400.

Still, Ford's current white-collar workforce has grown 13.6 percent in its largest and most profitable market since the depths of the U.S. economic recession in 2009.

Meanwhile, Ford is expanding and refreshing its models worldwide. In China, Ford aims to sell 15 models, up from its current five. It is also revamping it South American lineup and in Europe is launching 15 new or refreshed models over the next five years.

The 2,200 new salaried workers expected this year are in addition to more than 8,100 hourly and salaried workers Ford hired in the United States last year. About 1,000 were hourly jobs that were recently brought in-house that were once performed in other locations or by Ford suppliers in Mexico and Japan.

In 2011, Ford and the United Auto Workers union struck a deal that would require the automaker to create or retain 12,000 U.S. hourly jobs by 2015. On Friday, Ford said it had fulfilled half of that commitment.

(Reporting By Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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